Language , linguistics and discourse are active areas of study in the humanities , along with literature and the arts . Discourse analysis seeks to reveal the meaning of race and the actions of racists through careful study of the ways in which these factors of human society are described and discussed in various written and oral works. Van Dijk (1992), for example, examines the different ways in which descriptions of racism and racist actions are depicted by the perpetrators of such actions as well as by their victims.  He notes that when descriptions of actions have negative implications for the majority, and especially for white elites, they are often seen as controversial and such controversial interpretations are typically marked with quotation marks or they are greeted with expressions of distance or doubt. The previously cited book, The Souls of Black Folk by . Du Bois, represents early African-American literature that describes the author's experiences with racism when he was traveling in the South as an African American.
Interestingly, author Harper Lee does not seem particularly sympathetic to the gender inequity that the women in her story face. Most of the women in the novel are treated harshly: Miss Stephanie is a gossip; Dill's Aunt Rachel is a closet alcoholic; Mrs. Merriweather is a hypocrite; Mrs. Dubose is a hateful racist; and Scout's teachers, Miss Caroline and Miss Gates, are far from being competent educators. Mayella Ewell is an ignorant weakling who sides with her father's story about Tom even though Bob beats her and takes advantage of her. Other minor characters, like the Misses Tutti and Frutti, are eccentrics who are not taken seriously by the townspeople of Maycomb. Females are most definitely second-class citizens--certainly not as low on the social scale as Negroes--but they are also treated with a type of reverence and respectful fragility, typical of the male-dominated Southern world of the 1930s.